Judge Dismisses Claims of Christian Genocide

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit accusing two foreign banks and a Kuwaiti sheik of funding genocide against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. District Judge Jeffery White entered final judgment for defendants Kuwait Finance House et al. after the plaintiff, St. Francis of Assisi, failed to meet deadlines for submitting an amended complaint or responding to an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed.

In June 2016, St. Francis sued the Kuwait Finance House, Kuveyt-Turk Participation Bank and Hajjaj al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti-born Sunni cleric who was blacklisted by the United States and United Nations as a financer of terror.

St. Francis identifies itself as an organization that assists refugees victimized by the Islamic State’s murder and displacement of Christians in Iraq and Syria.

The foreign banks challenged St. Francis’ standing to sue, claiming the Alameda-based nonprofit was formed just one week before it filed suit, so it could not have suffered injuries at the time the banks allegedly funneled money to terrorists.

White granted the banks’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing and lack of jurisdiction in January, finding St. Francis failed to identify an individual member on whose behalf it was suing and who suffered injuries due to the banks’ alleged misdeeds.

In February, St. Francis’ attorney asked to extend the deadline to file an amended complaint, saying he needed more time to consult with victims who feared that participating in the suit would endanger them and their families.

After St. Francis failed to file an amended complaint by the March 28 deadline, the banks moved for final judgment.

White granted that request Wednesday, finding St. Francis failed to respond to an order to show cause by April 14.

“Plaintiff has not filed a response to the court’s order to show cause,” White wrote. “Accordingly, for the reasons set forth in the order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, and because plaintiff has failed to comply with the deadline to file an amended complaint, the court dismisses this case with prejudice and shall enter judgment n favor of all defendants, including Hajjaj al-Ajmi.”

The banks and al-Ajmi were accused of violating the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, aiding and abetting genocide, assisting in the intentional injury of others, reckless disregard and funding terrorism in violation of international law.

In October last year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler authorized the first known serving of a lawsuit by tweet on al-Ajmi, who allegedly organized Twitter campaigns to solicit donations in support of the Islamic State’s genocidal onslaughts.

The number of Christians in Iraq dropped from 1.4 million in 2003 to 300,000 in 2015. Fewer than 500,000 Christians remain in Syria today, compared to 1.25 million in 2011, according to 2015 estimates from the Catholic global charity Aid to the Church in Need.

In February last year, the European Parliament issued a resolution condemning the genocide of Christians and other religious minority groups in Iraq and Syria.

St. Francis attorney Mogeeb Weiss, of Alameda, did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Christian Hertenstein, with the Washington, D.C. public relations firm MSL Group said in a statement: “The dismissal confirms that this case should never have been brought against Kuwait Finance House or Kuveyt-Turk Participation Bank, both of which have strenuously denied the baseless allegations by a group formed by plaintiff’s counsel only one week before filing suit. SFA has identified no members and therefore has no claim; the court’s ruling exposes the plaintiffs as opportunists preying on the tragic events in Syria and the region.”